Today, I was surrounded by a number of keen business entrepreneurs who are part of the Oxygen Accelerator, a fantastic programme designed to help fast track tech businesses from ideas to success in a structured and supportive way.
It is always very inspiring to be amongst the next ‘big things’ in British business and it made me reflect on myself and what I wish I’d known back at the beginning.
My notes to self:
1) Hard work
Be under no illusion, starting a business from scratch is hard work. Not just long working hours, but you will always be on duty, always thinking about challenges, about successes, about failures, about what is next, about what you should have done. Holidays are times when you are thinking about work, but just not in the office. Go into this with your eyes wide open.
2) Surround yourself with great people
You will not be able to deliver your vision or your dream by yourself it will be a team effort! You will need a team of people around you that have different skills, have different personalities, behave differently. You will not want clones of you, no matter how much you think you are great - you need that mix of skills! You will need advisors around you, the more the merrier. There are people that have been there, done it and got the T-shirt. Find them. They will be able to help you short-circuit timelines and stop you making mistakes.
3) Prepare for failure
It is rare that you will have a nice and easy successful run from idea generation through to exit without any hiccups en route. It is not about setting yourself up to fail, but how you deal with failure. It will come, it may be small, it may be infrequent, but how you deal with it will potentially be the key ingredient required for ultimate success.
4) Take time to reflect on the business
In a growing business there are always challenges whether it is sales, marketing, product development, technology or people issues. You can often find yourself running at 100 miles per hour. It is important to take time away from the day-to-day activities to think, reflect on what has happened, what is required to help you achieve your goals and to think through the next steps and new tackle challenges
5) Take time to reflect on yourself
Let’s be honest, you have weaknesses, even Richard Branson has weaknesses. It is important that you know what these are, the skills gaps you have and have plans for how to fill these gaps.
6) Always ask yourself what next?
Stay true to your vision. You will meet doubters along the way, you will be asked “are you sure?” and “what evidence is there to suggest this?”. Belief in your vision is part of the reason that you do what you do. Yes, take advice and you are allowed to change tack, but if you believe then keep the faith.
I look forward to finding out how the Oxygen Accelerator businesses grow to fulfill their aspirations. Marc Harris – Chief Technology Officer at CrowdControlHQ and I greatly enjoy being mentors on the programme. Big thanks to Simon Jenner who gave us the opportunity to get involved; there are many benefits of being involved in the programme.
James Leavesley, CEO
CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform